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Sugarbeet Growers Magazine April / May 2014 : Page 11

30 Years & Counting Paul Horny, Longtime Farm Manager of Michigan’s Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center, Talks About His Work & the Center’s Sugarbeet Role property was found – including, of course, an owner who simultaneously was willing to sell the acreage at a price acceptable to the university. While the west-Saginaw farm was on a silty clay soil within a flood plain, the Frankenmuth one is a lighter loam – much more typical of what beet growers in the Thumb work with. “It’s a Tappan-Londo, which encompasses pretty much the majority of the Thumb,” Horny notes. “I would never wear out plow shares [at the Saginaw farm] because it had no sand; here, I get two years,” he quips. Though the Saginaw research farm was owned by the bean and beet groups and leased to the university, the commodity groups donated pro-ceeds from its sale to MSU – which in turn used those funds to help purchase the Frankenmuth farm. “So this is now a university-owned facility; but we still have the same partnership (with the beet and dry bean sectors) as we had before,” Horny observes. The farm currently hosts research on five crops: sugarbeets, dry beans, soybeans, wheat and corn – with likely expansion into cucumbers in the near future. With sugarbeets specifically, the researchers conducting studies come from USDA-ARS, MSU (several Photo: Don Lilleboe T he farm on which Paul Horny worked from 1984 to 2009 was less than a 15-minute drive from his home. That changed five years ago. The farm moved – and Horny’s daily commute stretched into more than 45 minutes each way. But he’s just fine with that. Those 25 years were invested as farm manager of the 120-acre Saginaw Valley Bean and Beet Research Farm. Established by Michigan State Univer-sity in 1971 and situated just a few miles west of Saginaw, the farm prop-erty was actually owned by the state’s sugarbeet and dry bean industry groups. For many years, it served as the primary location for MSU research on those two crops. That changed in 2009 when the “old” research farm west of Saginaw was replaced by the “new” Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center (SVREC) located approximately four miles north of Frankenmuth and about 40 miles to the east of the west-Sagi-naw farm. Starting out as a 250-acre property, it has since been expanded to 320 acres. Why the move? “We needed to make sure we were within the region where beets and beans were being grown,” Horny explains. As corn and soybean plantings expanded in that area, the Saginaw farm ended up out-side the main beet-and dry bean-growing region. Leaders in both commodities – as well as MSU – wanted to get the research facility much closer to the heart of their grow-ing area – i.e. , eastward into the “Thumb.” That need was on the radar screen by the year 2000. The problem was to locate and purchase the new property. “The biggest challenge was to find a certain number of contiguous acres,” Horny recounts. “We were requiring at least 250 contiguous acres; and here in the Thumb, there still are a lot of farms in 80s and 40s. So there were very few large pieces of land avail-able.” After several years, a suitable THE SUGARBEET GROWER April/May 2014 11

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